W3C home > Mailing lists > Public > www-archive@w3.org > May 2007

Re: Decision process in the HTML working group

From: Maciej Stachowiak <mjs@apple.com>
Date: Mon, 7 May 2007 11:14:21 -0700
Message-Id: <95C691DE-7FDD-4972-A645-F268E6702619@apple.com>
Cc: Chris Wilson <Chris.Wilson@microsoft.com>, www-archive@w3.org
To: Dan Connolly <connolly@w3.org>

On May 7, 2007, at 10:20 AM, Dan Connolly wrote:

> Maciej Stachowiak wrote:
>> On May 7, 2007, at 7:58 AM, Dan Connolly wrote:
>>> Maciej Stachowiak wrote:
>>> [...]
>>>> Well, there's people in between where it's hard for me to tell  
>>>> if they would have registered an FO as a follow-on to a "no" vote.
>>> This business where the FO is a follow-on to a decision seems
>>> broken, to me. The point at which to object, formally, is when
>>> the question is put, not after the decision is made.
>> I've asked around, and that doesn't seem to be the way other W3C  
>> Working Groups do it. I've heard from representatives from the Web  
>> API, WAF, SVG, CSS, CDF, Web Security Context, Mobile Web Best  
>> Practices and Device Description WGs, in all cases they decide by  
>> simple majority after sufficient discussion, and Formal Objections  
>> have to be registered separately. I encourage you to ask other  
>> chairs about this.
> I'm well aware that other chairs in other groups do it differently.
> I still think it's wierd/broken.

 From experience, it seems much more productive than the way we do it  
now, in that you don't end up with every vote putting the project it  
risk. I'm not sure why you think it's broken. The point of Formal  
Objections, as I understand it, is to appeal a decision you strongly  
disagree with, not to prevent a decision from being made.

>> The Process document also says: "In the W3C process, an individual  
>> may register a Formal Objection to a decision."
> Yeah, I might have to get that fixed.

Maybe we could stick to the Process until after you go through the  
process of getting your changes adopted.

>>  This seems pretty clear that the Formal Objection is to a  
>> decision actually made, not just a proposed resolution. I feel a  
>> little guilty citing the Process document, but I really do think a  
>> voting process where every disagreement with the majority must be  
>> reviewed by the Director creates practical problems as cited in my  
>> original email.
> I have no use for "I disagree with the majority" data.

OK, but voting isn't just for your benefit. It's for the whole group,  
as a way to make decisions, and as a way for members of the group to  
express their position for the record. I think people are a lot more  
likely to move on after a decision they disagree with if they have  
the chance to clearly express the disagreement, and feel they have  
been heard.

> I _only_
> have use for
>   * I support the proposal; I'm willing to help get it deployed
>   * I object to the proposal to the extent that I want to put
>     the whole project at risk
> I'm happy to lump all the rest (abstain/no answer/disagree/whatever)
> together, for formal decision-making purposes.

It seems that these are the most extreme positions possible on any  
issue. And trying to push people towards the most extreme positions  
is likely to polarize the group more, rather than leading to  
compromise. It's hard to become tolerant of differences when every  
disagreement puts the project at risk

I know that in past cases of WG decisions I've disagreed with,  
whether as a commentor or group member, I've been happy to express my  
disagreement, have it recorded, and move on with no further appeal,  
but I would *not* have been happy to abstain or have my vote look  
like an abstention.

> Maybe the easiest thing is changing the label on "abstain"
> to "abstain or disagree" or change the label on "no"
> to "formally object".

I still don't see why formal objection has to be part of the voting  
process. A vote has two possible outcomes and it seems that one could  
object to either. If "no" votes were in the majority, would you  
consider every "yes" vote a Formal Objection? Would you have a vote  
of "yes, and I formally object if the resolution doesn't carry"?

It really seems like Formal Objections should be a rarely used last  
resort appeals process, and not part of the standard process at all.  
And it really seems like making them a built-in part of the decision- 
making process is likely to put the project at risk repeatedly.

I'd like to hear what our other chair thinks about this idiosyncratic  
interpretation of the W3C decision process.

Received on Monday, 7 May 2007 18:14:32 UTC

This archive was generated by hypermail 2.3.1 : Wednesday, 7 January 2015 14:43:11 UTC